Monday, November 16, 2015

Review: Batman/Superman #26

Batman/Superman #26 came out last week, another chapter in the seemingly interminable 'The Truth' story arc. I have talked about how this depowered angry Superman isn't for me. I have talked about how Superman hasn't acted the way I want Superman to act. And in this comic, last issue, we saw him eager to rush to action, even when it was ill-advised.

Now this issue, we see a calmer Superman. He realizes his limitations. And he becomes a decent teammate with the Batman Family. And so part of me was happier with this characterization. Outside of one moment, this Superman acted in a decent way. So at least this issue has that going for it.

But the overall arc of 'The Truth' has been pretty rough. And if the end cliffhanger of this issue is the big reveal of this storyline, I will be even more disappointed. But more on that when we reach those pages.

The art here is done by Adrian Syaf, Vicente Cifuentes, and Cliff Richards and it is lovely. In particular, I adore the Batgirl in this book. She is just wonderfully depicted.

But I know that I am losing patience with this arc based solely on the length of my reviews. When things get brief, when I don't have a lot to say, I think I'm fading.

Last issue, Superman and Batgirl stumbled upon some camp Vandal Savage has established in Siberia. There are humans working as labor, getting uranium from decommissioned nuclear missiles. It is clear that Clark and the Batman Family need to save these people and scuttle this operation.

The heroes approach the team and, after an initial period of distrust, decide to work together. And Superman acts as a sort of leader. This is the weakest we have seen him physically (he bleeds when stabbed by a fork). But this is the best we have seen him.

Everyone has their role.
Batgirl will try to figure out a way to get the people out or stop Vandal from getting there.
Dick will set up new identities so everyone will be safe once they escape.
And Jason will be their battle leader, figuring out what to do if Savage should come back and a scrap needs to happen.

This felt very classic to me, like when the Justice League would split up based on mission needs and team makeup.

Savage arrives at the camp via a teleporting disk. Batgirl is trying to figure out the device. Maybe she can use it send the people away. Or maybe she can use it to send Savage somewhere else should he try to come.

While I like what this Superman is doing in this issue, he does go a bit dark here, wondering if Savage can be teleported into a solid rock. I don't think he is joking here. I think he is fearful. And is contemplating it, even for a second.

But I love Batgirl's response. She is really laughing there. Because to her, Superman wishing someone to be killed is so wrong it is hysterical.

And this temptation is fostered a bit from Jason. Red Hood knows the handful of guns and few bricks of C4 explosive probably can't hurt Savage too much. The heroes have a choice. They can try to subdue Savage, which seems futile, and then watch as Savage kills all the campers. Or they can kill him, by luring him there and blowing up the nukes. Sure it'll be an ecological disaster. But Savage will be gone. And the people will be alive.

Thankfully Batgirl is again there to say just how stupid the idea is. There has to be something better than 'everyone dies' or 'nuke the world'. I love she stands up to Jason calling him stupid. Perfect.

It is this teamwork and this discussion is what I loved about this story. You can only have Superman questioning his ethics and decisions if he is depowered.

During this preparation, the Shadow Demons of Wrath show up. Everyone wades in. And when they see Superman tearing through them like paper mache, they know these things aren't sentient. Kendo blades and bullets are allowed.

But ... when did we learn that?

We have seen people in Metropolis go from human to demon. We have seen Lee infected by the shadows. When did this go from demonized humans to mindless automatons? Like many parts of this nonlinear multi-title storyline, I felt I needed more information. Maybe we learn about this later?

There are a lot of shadow demons. Luckily Superman's wild card, Batman, just happens to arrive at the time of the battle. Even Superman knew he needed more firepower. And with friends at a minimum, he had to call in this frenemy.

But even this irks me a bit. Not Diana. Not the Flash. Not a Green Lantern. The unknown armored Batman. Really?

And, of course, he didn't call Kara, his blood family. Because ....

Well we will never get an answer to this question.

Of course, it does seem odd that Vandal would have so many shadow demons nearby to defend this place. The uranium can't be worth so much to require so many shadow defenders. Why not have Savage's live  troops? Why not stay himself? What could be going on? And maybe Savage is trying to hide something in plain sight? Defend only with shadows and only when needed?

Superman realizes that all of Savage's gambits are about stealing energy, from his own, to villain's, to the portable sun. All that energy has to be being prepped for something big. The heroes use the C4 to blow up the snow to see if there is something beneath the surface.

It seems a bit idiotic to me that Savage wouldn't stash the pieces of his anti-Superman plot in a safer, more defended place. Did he think that burying his ill-gotten gains in the snow would be the right move? Of all the places Savage must have around the globe, putting these critical elements in an open space was the best idea?

Okay, he is a stupid super-villain. Maybe he thought it was wise.

But what is it he is hiding??

Oh my god.

It's a nazi gunship.

First off, he buried a portable sun under snow? A sun we know is strong enough to vaporize a city. Am I to guess that the green globe dampened the sun's power so much that it didn't melt the snow?

But next, Savage's grand plan to defeat Superman and rule the world is a giant Nazi gunship? This thing is what he needs the Quarmer's for, what he drained Superman, Atomic Skull and everyone else for? This is what he needs a small sun for? And uranium for?

A Nazi gunship?

Now I feel even more cheated. Talk about a hackneyed plot device. Talk about something that could probably be taken down by just about any super-hero group. This just felt silly. Especially when we have been told that The Truth is supposed to be some deep, mature exploration of who Superman is and what he represents.

I guess I should wait to see what this thing ends up being. But I laughed when I saw this. And not in a good way.

So overall, I like Clark in this issue, a true rarity in The Truth. But the lack of explanation about the demons lack of life, the idea that Savage would leave his major gains buried and virtually undefended, the fact that his coup de grace is a giant Nazi warship made me question the story-telling here.

As I said, the art is very easy on the eyes. The Shadow Demon melee is energetic.

Overall grade: C+


Martin Gray said...

I was softer on this than you; I find that every little nice moment has me forgetting the details of previous horrors. Just end it, DC.

Veronica said...

I didn't even bothered to read it yet. At this point writers are phoning it, because storyline too long. this is such a mess.

of course Batmanbunnyrobot show up, there is a batman on the title lol

Anonymous said...

HA! Veronica, I was going to say the same thing. I haven't read it yet. I have to before Wednesday.

Thanks for the review Anj. I'll come back and comment after I read it.

Martin: In the most general of terms? I couldn't agree more. End this whole debacle DC. And not just the Truth storyline. This direction is doing no favors to Superman.

Anonymous said...

Wow a hidden Nazi project as the villain's secret weapon, haven't seen that in a comic, movie or game ever... I was also a little perturbed with how Pak dealt with the sentient shadow army question, it would have been nice to establish via Superman's investigations or Batman's sensors earlier on that they weren't sentient rather than playing the is Superman killing game. Had enough of that from DC currently. Nor am I on board with the idea that Superman has to be depowered to question or discuss his ethics, he did plenty of that at full power without losing confidence or resolve in what he was doing too. This is just a less successful way of doing it IMO.


Unknown said...

Yeah , the truth of the story arc is its nonsense that should have never been published. If they are smart they will start to get his full powers(minus the stupid solar flare ) in February .

garyb said...

Good grief, collective, if the comics/stunts/crossovers/characterization sucks, stop enabling it with your dollars.

As long as the bloody things sell, they'll keep making them, and DiDio will cry all the way to the bank.

Meanwhile, DC managed to cancel just about all the books I had been reading, and I felt very little need to try to find alternatives. Comics are an expensive form of entertainment.

Anj said...

Thanks for comments.

In some ways, it was a shame that all the Bat sidekick interaction with Clark was sort of lost by the ending.

Anyways, I am eager for this whole thing to be over. But it seems we are still in the midst in February.

Jay said...

I don't know what DC can do to bump up Superman sales. Its just static. We can debate till the cows come home whether it needs more shakeups or more classic trappings, but the fact of the matter is that thus far neither approaches have really generated a boost. So I'm at a loss. Don't get me wrong, it doesn't affect my enjoyment of the character, but it'd be nice to see him regain a foothold in popularity. I just don't know what's going to do it at this point.

Jay said...

Woops! That last comment was meant for the sales entry. I scrolled too far down, lol.